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A Date Is Not an Interview

If you’re conducting a date like a job interview, no wonder your dates are duds. Learn how to turn them around with Travis L. Stork, star of The Bachelor: Paris and author of Don’t Be That Girl: A Guide to Finding the Confident, Rational Girl Within.

I don’t think you can have a more painful experience than a date that feels like a job interview. Or a marriage interview. Or any type of interview, for that matter. The problem is that when you have an agenda, a date often does resemble an interview. How do I know this? Let’s just say I’ve been guilty of my own agendas.

In college, I went on a date with a girl many considered to be the most beautiful on campus. I went out with her with one goal to accomplish: get the girl. Unfortunately, since I was so focused on an agenda rather than trying to get to know her as an individual, the date was doomed. At dinner, I was extremely nervous and all I could think was: This is going horribly. The conversation was perfunctory and I brought absolutely no charm to the table. Zilch. I was boring, nervous, and I don’t think I gave a hearty laugh or offered a genuine smile during our entire dinner conversation. Instead I kept falling back on questions that led to one-word answers and my true personality disappeared. Guess how that date ended? A “thanks for dinner,” a polite peck on the cheek, and the occasional awkward “hello” on campus until I finally graduated.

After that date, I vowed never to allow an agenda or the interview mentality to encroach upon my dating life ever again. I now approach each and every date I go on with a completely different attitude. This is about pleasure, not business. I’m excited to have fun, to laugh, and to get to know my date, not interview her or be interviewed.

We’ve all been on the brutal interview date. It usually goes something like:

Guy: So what do you do?
Girl: I’m an accountant.
Guy: Cool.
Girl: What do you do?
Guy: I’m a photographer.
Girl: Cool.
Guy: Where do you live?
Girl and Guy: Zzz . . . zzz . . . zzz

Whether you’re the interviewer or the interviewee, you can turn things around if you realize this is how your date is going. Rescue yourself (or your date) by taking the following measures:

1. Ask open-ended questions: Asking these types of questions leads to interesting conversation instead of one word answers. For example:

What was your college experience like?
instead of
Where did you go to college?

What do you enjoy most about your job?
instead of
What is your job?

2. Ask follow-up questions: Follow up any objective question with one that will allow you to legitimately get to know your date. For instance, after you ask him if he has any siblings and he says, “Yes, a sister,” instead of simply nodding your head and saying “Ah, that’s nice,” try coming back with a probing question or two, such as: What is your sister like? Do you get along well? Or better yet, explore his aspirations by asking him, if he could do anything, what would it be?

If, despite a sweet resume, he has no legitimate aspirations or his answers reveal he’s a psycho, maybe you should be the one asking for the check. (At least later when your friends ask how your date went you’ll have a more interesting answer than “eh, fine.”) Regardless, always listen to what he says rather than staring longingly into your future husband’s eyes. Don’t get ahead of yourself—you’re just getting to know him. And don’t forget to have fun!

Dr. Travis Stork, author of Don’t Be That Girl: A Guide to Finding the Confident, Rational Girl Within (Copyright © 2008 by Travis L. Stork, M.D.), graduated magna cum laude from Duke University and earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia. He currently lives in Colorado, where he works as an ER doctor. Dr. Stork is the host of the Dr. Phil spinoff, The Doctors.



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